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Pierre, a sixty-year-old technician on an offshore oil rig, has become a misanthropic loner. He had a wife but she died after a breakdown whose seriousness he had more or less deliberately overlooked. He had a lover, beautiful concert pianist Florence, but he left her without giving her any explanations. Now his only life companion is an alley cat he has adopted. One day he is the victim of a strange accident and finds himself immobilized in a hospital bed. Pierre is horrified but what he does know yet is that this hated hospital room will gradually become the place of his return to life. Written by
Jean Becker's humanity is well-known now. Only those with a heart of stone or those who yield to the diktats of the Paris intelligentsia continue to bash an artist whose only crime is to believe that each man, whatever their weak point, is perfectible and that, providing they make the necessary efforts, everybody can live in harmony with others. Note that I would gladly subscribe to the detractors' point of view if his films were as sloppy or shallow as they claim but either I am blind or simple-minded but they appear to me just well-made, well-interpreted and truly moving because devoid of any mawkishness.
The "hero" of Becker's latest film is Pierre Laurent, an embittered sixty-year-old misanthrope (Gérard Lanvin, cantankerous as can be) who finds himself confined to a hospital bed following an accident. Jealous of his own privacy and a lover of silence, he has become the prisoner and for a long time - of a closed world where he is exposed to constant noise and all the gazes. He just hates the visit of his relatives, abhors the hospital staff and curses Maëva, a carefree plumpish teen who keeps invading his living space. Naturally, the confirmed humanist Jean Becker is WILL NOT leave his main character in such a sorry state. As one can expect, and to our great delight, the writer-director will have him evolve little by little, take stock of himself and open up to others, making this long hospital stay not only a harrowing experience but also and above all an initiatory journey.
The flesh of this story (entertaining even though not in the least relying on action set-pieces) is a novel by Marie-Sabine Roger, a gifted writer Becker adapts for the second time in his career (four years after the touching "La tête en friche"), in this instance in collaboration with Roger herself and the excellent Jean-Loup Dabadie ("Les choses de la vie", "Un éléphant ça trompe énormément"). And once again the magic happens, the major difference lying in the central character depicted: here, instead of an uneducated Gérard Depardieu who discovers a liking for reading we meet an unsociable Gérard Lanvin who acquires the taste of others. Lanvin (as was Depardieu in the former movie) is perfect in the role and it is mainly thanks to him that "Bon rétablissement" rolls smoothly through. Mainly, but not only since he is surrounded by a solid cast, among whom stand out Black comedian Claudia Tagbo, who gives a fine performance as the head nurse, as well as, for the first time on the big screen, Anne-Sophie Lapix, the popular TV presenter, who plays Pierre's ex-flame with charm, wit and unexpected self-confidence.
And, to give credit where credit is due, the final honors should go to Jacques Becker's son, whose movies are anything but smoke and mirrors. Filled with empathy for the human kind, they make you feel better leaving the theater than you did before getting in. This one is no exception.
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